News from MSU Media Relations--Jan. 16

The latest sports news from the MSU Media Relations Department...Women's Basketball, Track & Field and Men's Tennis.

Women's Basketball
LEXINGTON, Ken. - Mississippi State failed to keep the offensive pace early, as 19th-ranked Kentucky rolled to a 72-60 victory over the Lady Bulldogs in Southeastern Conference women's basketball game played Sunday afternoon in Memorial Coliseum.

With the defeat, the Lady Bulldogs fell to 8-8 overall and 0-4 in league play. The Maroon and White have now five straight decisions overall. Kentucky, coached by MSU alumnus Matthew Mitchell, improved to 13-4 and 2-2.

Kentucky scored the game's first seven points, as MSU went more than four minutes before finally scoring. The Lady Bulldogs eventually responding by scoring the game's next eight points. A 3-point basket by Mary Kathryn Govero placed the Bulldogs on top, 8-7 with 14:36 left before halftime.

Kentucky took the lead for good on its next possession when Jennifer O'Neill hit a 3-point basket.

That trey actually started a 22-0 run by the hosts. MSU actually went 8:46 without scoring before a fast-break layup by Porsha Porter broke the draught.

That strong burst was more than enough for Kentucky, which sprinted to a 36-14 lead with less than three minutes left in the half.

Kentucky led 42-21 at the intermission. In the opening half, the Maroon and White actually shot a better percentage from the field than the Lady Wildcats. However, MSU was undone by 16 first-half turnovers.

In the second half, the Lady Bulldogs closed within 10 but could get no closer.

For the contest, the Lady Bulldogs hit 23 of 48 shots from the field (47.9 percent), 6 of 15 shots from 3-point range (40.0 percent) and 8 of 12 shots from the foul line (66.7 percent). The Lady Wildcats hit 26 of 59 shots from the field (44.1 percent), 6 of 21 shots from 3-point range (28.6 percent) and 14 of 21 shots from the foul line (66.7 percent).

UK held a 35-26 rebounding advantage. The Lady Bulldogs had eight assists and 22 turnovers, while the Lady Wildcats had 18 assists and 13 turnovers.

Diamber Johnson paced the Lady Bulldogs with 20 points. MSU also received 16 points from Govero and 12 points from Catina Bett.

Kentucky received a double-double from Victoria Dunlap (22 points, 10 rebounds). The Lady Wildcats also received 16 points from A'dia Mathies, 13 points from Bernisha Pinkett and 11 points from O'Neill.

The Lady Bulldogs host Auburn at 7 p.m. Thursday.

Track & Field
BATON ROUGE, La. - First-year Mississippi State track and field coach Steve Dudley could not have been more pleased with his team's first indoor meet of the year as his 4x400 squad turned in a first-place finish at the Purple Tiger Invitational Saturday.

The Lady Bulldogs' relay team, comprised of senior Taneisha Baker, sophomore Keisha Wallace, sophomore Jody-Ann Muir and senior Talisha Lee finished with a time of 3:51.23. Wallace and Lee also had big days in the 60-meter hurdles, with Wallace finishing 4th (8.65) and Lee right on her heels in 5th (8.70).

"I am extremely, extremely happy with the performances today," Dudley said. "My goal for this meet was to be better than last year, and we were. I always tell the teams that you can't judge yourself based on the performance of others. You have to judge yourself against yourself. If you are better than you were yesterday or last time, then you are making progress and are on your way up. You don't have to necessarily win; you just have to be better than you were."

The Lady Bulldogs also had a Top 5 finish in the mile run, as Chloe Phillips posted a second-place time of 5:13.31. Also finishing second was Favian Cowards in the weight throw at 60-01-25.

As for the men, freshman James Harris kicked off his Bulldog career in impressive style with a couple of first-place finishes. In his first-career jump, he tied the school high jump record of 7-03.00, set by Robert Newton in 2000. Then, Harris aided the men's 4x400-meter relay team, which also included sophomore Daundre Barnaby, freshman Randy Patterson and sophomore Tavaris Tate in their first place finish (3:15.07).

"Our guys had some huge performances today," Dudley said. "James Harris was especially impressive as he placed first in the jumps, then double-backed to compete in the relay."

Next up MSU will split their teams as part will travel to Lexington, Ky., for the Rod McCravy Invitational, and another group will travel to New York for the Millrose Games in historic Madison Square Garden.

Men's Tennis
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Bulldog senior Artem Ilyushin led the Mississippi State men's tennis team with a pair of three-set victories in singles consolation on Sunday as MSU concluded play at the SEC Indoor Championships in Knoxville, Tenn.

First Ilyushin took down LSU's Julien Gauthier, 4-6, 6-3, 1-0(8), in the round of 16 of consolation action. He followed that up with an encore victory over No. 38 nationally ranked Matteo Fago of Tennessee, 4-6, 6-4, 1-0(6), improving to a perfect 4-0 when faced with a tiebreaker situation on the season.

Also active in consolation play Bulldog newcomer James Chaudry fell in a three-set bout to Daniil Proskura of Alabama, 4-6, 6-4, 1-0(8). State senior Max Gregor dropped a 6-0, 6-2, decision to Tennessee's Boris Conkic in the second round of singles consolation.

In the semifinals of doubles consolation MSU's tandem Chaudry and true freshman Zach White dropped a tiebreaker match to LSU's Gauthier and Stefan Szacinski, 9-8(5).

MSU turns its focus to the Auburn Invitational next weekend and fourth-year head coach Per Nilsson admits it will be good to have the whole team together again competing.

"The SEC Indoors was fun and we got some good matches in and were able to evaluate a lot of things about the guys that went," Nilsson said. "But I am looking forward to the Auburn Invitational next weekend because we will have the whole team together again and will be able to continue to play some quality matches to help prepare us for the dual match season coming up."

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